Top 12 Factors of Fast Lube Success: Part II

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Editor’s note: To read Part I of Haggard’s “Top 12 Factors of Fast Lube Success,” make sure to check out the July 2015 issue of NOLN.

7. Think about the little things

Customers don’t return because you did a good job changing their oil and filter. The little things you do are the reasons customers become regulars. In all my years, I never received a single atta-boy letter complimenting us on how well we changed oil, but there were many that praised our setting tire pressures — including the spare — or bringing a cup of water to their dog or letting them know we found a nail in a tire.

You may call them the little things, but in the customer’s mind those little things are the big things. It’s worth sitting down and giving a lot of thought to expanding your service to include every possible little thing you can add. Make sure the customer is aware of all of them by including them on your menu, dialogue, signage and checklists. All the extras you do are important, and the customer’s perception is critical. Spread and expand, don’t just say vehicle inspection. List every single item you check individually. The longer the list, the better the perception of value.

8. Pay systems and staffing

What gets rewarded gets done. Establish a compensation system such that everyone benefits from more business. If you simply pay by the hour, there is little motivation to attract more customers. A percentage of sales pay system can make everyone eager to see more cars in the driveway and more growth to create higher paying positions.

Have lots of carrots, and reward those who meet your attainable goals. Resolve problems by rewarding those who don’t create them.

There are forms of compensation that may be more effective than money. We all need recognition and appreciation for our efforts. They cost nothing and should be generously lavished on those who serve you.

The sense of belonging and being surrounded by others who care for you and your welfare is a basic human need surpassed only by air, water and food. Sharp uniforms not only imply a well-trained crew, but uniforms also enhance the feeling of belonging to a team. Group social functions or outings play a role. Listening to your crew’s suggestions, problems and recommendations — especially when their ideas are put into use — can do wonders for their sense of worth and contributing to the team’s efforts.

The owner of a successful fast lube is more a coach than a boss. It’s a team effort where everyone must have common goals. Motivation, caring, encouragement, guidance and a rewards package involving psychological needs as well as monetary compensation will be much more effective than, “My way or the highway” management.

Staffing for a two-bay fast lube should be a neat, clean greeter — usually the manager located up front — who greets the customer, makes the sale and does such things as the under the hood and light checks. You don’t need a cashier. The greeter has ample time to work lines to both bays including collecting the money.

There should be an upper tech and a lower tech on each bay. In a pinch, or to provide a lunch break, it’s possible for a single lower tech to keep both lines flowing, but not advisable on a continuous basis.

That results in the need for six on the payroll — a manager, an assistant for the manager’s day off and four additional lube techs. That works out to being fully staffed full-time, six days a week and everyone working on five days for a 40-hour week. It may well be worth scheduling a nine hour day with everyone receiving five hours overtime. This creates a powerful motivating force for attendance because if one is late or absent, the lucrative overtime pay is lost.

Employees need to have a reliable payroll amount. Their scheduled hours and income should be secure. If there are no cars in the driveway, it’s time for cleaning, restocking, landscape maintenance or training. Understaffing or sending people home during slow periods to cut payroll costs is the absolute worst way to increase profits. If there is no one to immediately greet every customer on arrival, you are understaffed. Hire more.

JOE HAGGARD writes from a customer’s point of view and is a retired fast lube consultant. He welcomes comments at 352.861.1985 or via email:


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